UMass Boston Professor Carrie Ann Quinn is a professional actress as well as an assistant professor of theatre arts and the Head of Acting and Directing at UMass.
Quinn received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and after graduating she traveled to the west coast. She lived in LA for 10 years, where she acted in television, film, and theater and earned entrance into the Screen Actors Guild.
“I started teaching a lot of workshops and was pretty good at it. A friend suggested I go back to school to earn my MFA so I could make more money teaching,” said Quinn.
“I was 30 at the time, and Boston University offered me a teaching fellowship,” Quinn said. The fellowship allowed Quinn to teach undergraduates as an instructor at BU while working towards her MFA.
After receiving her MFA, Clemson University asked her to teach at the Southern Carolina University. For four years Quinn did just that, but she was on the lookout to come back to the northeast.
“[South Carolina] wasn’t the best place for getting acting jobs, so I kept my eyes open for jobs in either New York, Boston, or LA. This one at UMass came up. I’m originally from Boston, I like Boston and it’s pretty close to New York,” Quinn said.
Quinn now shares her time between her apartment in Boston and her apartment in New York. In addition to directing plays at UMass, including last year’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," Quinn performs in plays across Boston and New York.
Quinn’s original play "POSSESSIONS," conceived and written with Jane Bergeron, a professional actor, director, and Director of Theatre Studies at University of Notre Dame Sydney, Australia, will debut soon in Boston and world premiere in Australia. They are co-founders of Escape Artists theatre company.
“POSSESSIONS” is the story of the historical Mancini sisters, two aristocratic women who left their abusive husbands, abandoning their wealth and possessions, and spent the rest of their lives on the run.
“My favorite line in the play is ‘freedom is the richest treasure in the world,' in that you can have all the possessions but it doesn’t buy you this one thing,” Quinn said.
As a tenure-track professor, Quinn is required to conduct research in her field of study.
“This has been my major project and a project in which I’m working on everything, even writing. A professor should not only teach but constantly try to be a part of whatever they teach. As an actor and a director, my research is to create and perform theatre,” Quinn said.
Quinn and Bergeron have always wanted to create something together, but because Bergeron lives in Australia, the duo were not sure how to create a play while located on different sides of the world. They started to Skype ideas back and forth, and for the past two summers have met up to work on the project.
“I went to visit her in Australia and we started writing a paper based on how you go about writing a play with someone on opposite sides of the world and how do you write a play using history,” Quinn said.
Quinn and Bergeron experimented with different techniques to tell the Mancini sisters’ story.
“We’re devising it, which is a new form of play writing. It’s more of a hybrid rather than just an adaptation, like if you take a novel and turn it into a play,” Quinn said. “We have historical documents, letters the women wrote and also their memoirs published in 1672. But, we’re taking all of that and using our imaginations to construct a story.”
The play also employs contemporary elements such as surveillance cameras to modernize the way the women were constantly followed by their husbands’ armies, Quinn said.
Quinn’s love for theatre derives from her belief that “theatre has the ability to change the way people think and feel about their own lives and encourages us to take a hard look at ourselves, our values, and our behavior.”
"POSSESSIONS" will be performed at the Boston Playwrights Theatre, located at 949 Commonwealth Ave from June 20-June 29, 2013.
For tickets and show info on POSSESSIONS: www.escapeartiststheatreco.com